Sexual Harassment

Women and Equalities written question – answered on 7th February 2018.

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Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Labour, Croydon Central

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps her Department is taking to review sexual harassment laws to ensure those laws are adequate in tackling unsafe work environments for women.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

Legal protection from harassment in the workplace exists through the Equality Act 2010, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Sexual Offences Act 2003. We believe this legislation provides adequate protection for both men and women in the working environment; however, we will continue to keep the operation of the legislation under review, to ensure that it works as intended.

We recognise the risk that unscrupulous employers may try to intimidate vulnerable employees into signing away their legal rights in non-disclosure agreements. However, such agreements cannot be used to prevent an individual from asserting their statutory rights either under the employment Rights Act 1996 or the Equality Act 2010: to the extent that they are so used, they will be unenforceable.

The Government has nonetheless committed to look at the structures around non-disclosure agreements and the evidence that is coming forward about how they are being used.

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